This is Belize.
Come Holy Spirit.
Here in Belize anyone can fall in love with the supportive culture, the wonderful people, and the aches of suffering. That is no typo either, here I have learned to embrace the suffering of my own cross and the cross of others. My fellow missionaries and I can attest to the “stretching” the Lord has allowed us to endure. We have taken on two flat tires the day we arrived, the absence of running water, the heat, and the labor that goes with serving the most in need. Both mentally and physically, limits have been reached and exceeded, and with the good counsel of the Holy Spirit toughed out. As uncomfortable as this sounds, I have found peace in it all and would not have it any other way.
Saint Padre Pio once said, “Suffering, no matter how difficult it may be, when compared to the good that is accomplished, makes every pain a joy for the soul.” And indeed there has been nothing but joy in my soul throughout the hardships of this trip. There is a joy in finding a homeless man in the streets and giving him something to eat. There is a joy in looking into the eyes of the elderly and talking to them so they know they are not forgotten. There is a joy in giving drink to a little girl who has spent the day in the sun. There is joy in clothing those with no shirts on their backs. The point is, there is JOY. But the crazy thing is that it came from being a witness to suffering and emerging into it as well without fear!
In the town of Benque Viejo, I made bonds with a few high school students who poured their hearts into conversations. These students are everyday kids that have a smile that can light up a room and personalities so big – enough for two people. In those moments of complete honesty I have heard stories of abuse, lack of father figures, the want of an education, and the responsibilities they have to take on to survive. It can break anyone’s’ heart when you know that you cannot help them or do anything immediately to help them. In that suffering of the heart these kids can still uplift you. I remember a time when my group prayed for each other and asked to pray for me as well. I accepted (because who does not need prayer) and a boy who I had talked to began to pray and said, “Thank you God for bringing maestro to us and letting him talk and pray with us.” This moment gave me strength and a peace in my heart as to how Christ is impacting these children through me. The Lord has used us missionaries in many ways and lead us to use our gifts to glorify his kingdom here on Earth. We are his people and we strive to serve the lowly, not only because it gives us joy, but it expands our capacity to know love - to know Christ.
For this mission trip I could not have prepared myself to what I would experience or who I would get to know. The fruits of the Holy Spirit and the blessings that come along with them have been more than enough and my cup overflows with just how delighted God is in His people. Coming here I have walked into houses where the floor is the Earth, I have walked the unpaved dirt roads, and even drank water out of a bag. Through it all I have smiled and found Christ in it all. With what has been revealed to myself in my spirituality and what has been done in action has transformed me for life. It is only in Belize where anyone can have these encounters in such a profound way. I am sure if you asked any missionary on this trip what they enjoyed most, it would be the joy of suffering and serving in that way. There are no fancy or moving words that I can put together to describe what has been done in the places what we have left. But what I can put into words is that, I can help those who are suffering because I am just as broken and the both of us can rejoice in having an awesome God. This is (has been) Belize.